A recent survey of Colusa County youth had some disturbing results. Of 500 students in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades who were asked a series of questions regarding smoking, almost half said they could obtain e-cigarettes if they wanted.
While cigarettes were on the decline, e-cigarettes have become more prevalent, health officials said.
Over 43 percent of students polled said that they felt it would be easy for them to obtain e-cigarettes.
Amanda Pitts, of County of Colusa Health and Human Services, said that it has become increasingly difficult for parents to spot the devices. Some are even being sold as a drawstring in a hooded sweatshirt.
The study also found that two in five students said they had been exposed to vapor from an e-cigarette or smoke from tobacco in the last month. Even those that are familiar with the danger of second-hand and third-hand smoke may not be able to judge the harm from second-hand vapor.
“It’s really new,” said Pitts. “So studies on the long term effects and third-hand possibilities are still new. We do know that they have cancer-causing chemicals in them. The secondhand aerosols are definitely a risk. There is some third-hand risk, but the level is still to be determined.”
With over 15,000 flavors for vaping, the practice is difficult to detect via smell. Some people will blow the vapor into the neck of their shirt to avoid any visual plume, Pitts said. Another finding was that nearly 20 percent of the students said that they had been offered a tobacco product in the last month.
Moving forward, Pitts said that parent education nights will be held.
“We’d like to try to do different schools, and kind of bring awareness to what the products look like,” Pitts added. “If parents want to get involved in like local efforts, the partners for health has a tobacco education subcommittee.”
Pitts encourages parents to take action to protect their children. Learn more at countyofcolusa.org/flavoredtobacco or contact the Colusa County Tobacco Education program at 530-458-0380. ■